Two Old Birds with Cameras (otherwise known as Dawn Mander and Jill Reidy) have been flying around Blackpool for the past few months, searching for a suitable venue for their first collaborative photographic exhibition. After a series of false starts the Birds have finally secured a fantastic space above the Galleon Coffee Bar in Topping Street.

Entitled ‘Inside Out’, it is a photographic exhibition with a message. Focusing on the theme of inclusivity, the Birds have been shooting and interviewing volunteers from Blackpool’s large LGBT community. The show explores how local people within this sector not only see themselves but also how they feel they are perceived by the wider community. What comes across most forcibly is that this is not about sexuality; this is about people, pure and simple: individuals who live, love, laugh and cry. And that’s really all anybody needs to know.

I asked the Birds for some background on their show.

Sandra: What inspired you to organise this exhibition?

Two Old Birds: Since we first met 18 months ago, we realised we were both very into equality/diversity /minority groups etc. We then got involved with photographing Gay Pride in Blackpool, during which we saw the ‘We’re Here’ exhibition, curated by Garth Gratrix. That had a huge impact on us and inspired us to think about doing an exhibition based on LGBT issues.

S: Has it been difficult to put together?

TOB: It’s not really been difficult to put together as we originally advertised on Facebook for volunteers from the LGBT community and asked around friends. We were very lucky that so many lovely volunteers came forward and were brave enough to expose themselves so publicly.

S: What are your memories of photographing it?

TOB: The shoots were fab – we managed to put all the volunteers at ease and we ended up having some good laughs and some deep discussions, not to mention what we think are some great images.

S: Which image are you most happy with?

TOB: A favourite? That’s hard to answer – in all we must have taken nearly two thousand pictures. We narrowed them down to about one hundred before choosing one main image for each of them. We feel that each image is so personal to that individual/couple that it would be impossible to choose a favourite.

Inside Out by Two Old Birds with Cameras has a private viewing evening on Thursday February 5, by invitation only, and will then run from February 6 to 28 when everybody is welcome.

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